5 Ways to Use Your Broiler in Place of a Grill

updated May 18, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Volo

As warmer temperatures creep up, the desire to do all the outside things grows within me. This is the time of year when grill-owners dust off the cobwebs of the off-season and start enjoying all things grilled. But what if you don’t own a grill? What is a person to do?

Did you know you have the next-best thing sitting in your oven? That’s right! Your broiler is just an indoor grill (turned upside down), and it’s probably the most underused and undervalued tool in your kitchen. Here is how you can use your broiler in place of a grill.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Use Your Broiler Like a Grill

To broil is to cook directly under the heating element in your oven. This element is found either underneath your oven in a pull-out drawer (you know that place where you keep your probably-forgotten extra stash of muffin tins and metal pans) or at the top of your oven. When set to broil, the heat in your oven will be around 500°F to 550°F. If your broiler is on the top of your oven, move an oven rack four to six inches under the heating element to get the most heat from it.

The temperatures when you broil are so high that the broiler acts very much like a grill. This makes it ideal for cooking fish and thin cuts of meat, charring vegetables, and crisping melty cheese. And like a grill, because the heat is so high, things cook quickly! Just don’t count on your broiler to give you gorgeous grill marks.

Credit: Lauren Volo

5 Ways to Use Your Broiler Like a Grill

  1. Broil lean, fast-cooking cuts of meat. Broiling tender cuts of meat (think: flank steaks and pork tenderloins) takes just minutes. A whole chicken breast takes less than 20 minutes under the broiler and will get deeply caramelized while it cooks.
  2. Cook fish without it falling through the grates. A fillet of fish will be cooked in about six minutes. Plus, it’s a bonus for not having to worry that your fish will slip through or stick to the grates.
  3. Char vegetables and fruits. You can char red peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Caramelize fruit like grapefruit and peaches for serving with ice cream as a summery dessert.
  4. Cook whole meals meant for the grill. Try broiling kebabs and skewers or use the broiler and a pizza stone to quickly cook flatbreads and pizzas that would normally hit the grill.

3 Tips for Using Your Broiler Like a Grill

  • Pay attention. Don’t walk away. Broilers often have hot spots that vary in heat, so this is not the time to multitask; things cook very fast.
  • Open a window or turn on the vent. Things will get smokey — you can prop your oven door ajar to allow air flow and help you keep an eye on things.
  • Don’t use glass baking dishes. The high heat can shatter glass and ceramic dishes (yes, even our beloved Pyrex pans).

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these recipes that will help you get acquainted with your broiler.